Northwest Rankin e-sports wins Smash Bros state championship

The win qualifies the Cougars for the national championship
Published: May. 9, 2023 at 11:09 PM CDT
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FLOWOOD, Miss. (WLBT) - The popularity of e-sports has exploded over the past several years. While a high school e-sports team was unheard of just a few years ago, the MHSAA recognizes the activity and hosts championships for three games: Madden, Super Smash Bros., and Rocket League.

Globally, professional e-sports have expanded, and the possibility of getting paid to play video games is higher than ever.

“Everybody wants to do something as a profession something they enjoy,” said Myles Dunn, a senior on the Northwest Rankin e-sports team. “So, just being able to play video games and make money, it’s just great.”

In addition to professional teams, a lot of colleges and universities across the country are starting e-sports teams, with some even giving scholarship opportunities to e-sport athletes.

“That is a really novel and fun idea. If that’s what people want to pursue, I think that’s great that you can get paid for what you love to do,” said Joseph Cotten, who is also a senior on the Cougar e-sports team.

Neither Dunn nor Cotten will be receiving scholarship money in college, nor will they be pursuing e-sports professionally, but their teammate, sophomore Noah Hutson, still has the chance to continue to get better and potentially receive scholarship money for e-sports.

“Whenever I play someone who’s a higher tier than me, I know that if I can take one stock then I can win the game,” Hutson said. “It feels really good that I can still get better at the game.”

Dunn, Cotten, and Hutson make up the Northwest Rankin Super Smash Bros. team, which won the MHSAA Spring Championship in April. The trio played on a stage in front of screaming fans at the University of Southern Mississippi, while the match was streamed live on the Southern Miss Twitch account.

“It was amazing,” Dunn said about playing in front of the crowd. “The only other time I’d ever experienced people chanting my name was when I was playing rec baseball. So, being able to do that, while playing a video game nonetheless, was just awesome and it felt great.”

“It was really weird, it felt like almost calming,” Hutson said. “I play the game a lot, it just felt natural to me”

In addition to winning the MHSAA championship, the Cougars were ranked as a top-32 high school team in the nation, and will compete against teams from across the country to win the national championship.

“It’s very interesting to see how far we can go and play with other states, which we’ve never done before,” Cotten said.

The Cougars will play in the national championship next week, the schedule has not been released yet.

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